Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Recipe - Merguez Sausages


As regular readers will know I recently bought myself a sausage stuffer, something I wrote about here, and this was my first attempt of trying to use it.

I better give some background as well. Patience have never been one of my strong sides and I might not always have been the best at dealing with things not going exactly as I want, especially when it comes to new things that I think I should be able to master.

There was much joy in my family regaling the story about how as a four year old I was trying ice skating for the first time. Having seen ice hockey on telly many a time even at that tender age I was certain that I knew exactly how to skate.

Needless to say the ice and the skates conspired to show me differently. The tantrum that followed was of epic proportions. The ice skates were thrown across the ice with all the might of a royally pissed off four year old. My parents spent the next couple of weeks quizzing friends and family as to who might have taught me the very spicy language I used.

It took them another three years until I agreed to go near an ice rink again.

With that background, and many more examples that I should not share with you, I did approach this entire sausage stuffing adventure with quite a bit of apprehension. I was envisaging things going horribly wrong, sausage mix all over the kitchen and a very nice and shiny sausage stuffer being smashed into pieces.

No one was more surprised than I when it actually went quite well and I responded maturely to the small setbacks I encountered. The quality of the sausage stuffer I bought from Franco's Famous Sausage Making was probably part of this. A really good piece of kit, top quality. I can't praise it high enough, I'm glad I went for a decently sized machine, I think that will pay off in the end.

The worst bit was probably getting the casing onto the spout, but with some patience and deep breathing I managed to figure out some kind of knack and got it done.

I did have a couple of hiccups where the sausage mixture did some funny things but all that I did then was to cut off the casing and re-tie it in both ends and keep going.

The recipe I used comes from a most excellent Swedish book called Korv (Sausage) written by a bloke named Kristofer Franzén. It is a truly inspirational book and I really hope it would be translated to English because I believe it is worthy of a much bigger audience. It sure beats quite a lot of the English language books I've read on the subject matter.

You might be a bit surprised as to the very exact measurements in this recipe, it's not my normal cavalier freestyling approach. That approach doesn't really work on sausage making, but fear not - once I've managed to understand things a bit better I'll soon be coming up with my own weird and wonderful attempts at making sausages that taste exactly my way.

Well, there's been one quite embarrassing story from my childhood and some other waffling so I think it is high time to head over to the recipe.

One final thing first though, there will be some recipes in the near future where I use these sausages so if you don't know what to have them with - despair not.

Ingredients (makes 2kg mix, enough for about 35 sausages)
Meat
1200g lamb, not too lean - diced
800g beef chuck - diced

Spices
32g sea salt
36g olive oil
6g ground black pepper
3g ground fennel seeds
20g crushed garlic
24g harissa

Method
Make sure that the meat has the right temperature, preferably frozen on the surface. Alternatively freeze it completely and then let it defrost in the fridge over night.

Pour some luke warm water into a bowl and put about 8 meters worth of lamb casings into it to rehydrate and flush out the salt. Let this sit for two to three hours. Rinse through the casings a couple of times to make extra sure that the salt is gone.

Spread the salt on the meat and mince the meat using a medium sized mincer plate.

Mix the minced meat, oil and spices either by hand or in the bowl of a stand mixer on a low speed until it all binds together nicely. Try not to let the meat mixture to get warmer than 4c at any stage of these processes.

Transfer the meat mixture into the container of your sausage stuffer, or whatever apparatus you will be using to stuff the casings.

Thread the casings onto the sausage stuffer spout and feed the meat mixture until it is at the end of the spout and ready to start filling the casing.

Tie a knot at the end of the casing and start filling, making sure not to fill too hard. Finish by tying a knot in the other end too.

Make 15 - 20 cm long sausages by pinching with the thumb and index finger of one hand about one sausage length into the casing and then the same thing with the other hand another sausage length in. Twist the sausage you have between your hands forwards. Measure another sausage length and repeat. Repeat until all sausages have been 'created'.

It's good to let the sausages rest for a couple of hours, or over night in the fridge, before you cook them.

Cut links between the sausages and grill them or fry them in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil until they start browning up.

Try not to overcook them since they don't contain much fat at all.

Enjoy!